SOTD: “Mr. Tillman” by Father John Misty

In comparison to what I previously posted, this is a pretty popular song that many people may have already heard, as Father John Misty also made the late night circuit on such mundane shows as Jimmy Fallon so even your grandmother may have heard this particular track. I have a tendency to be very snobbish when it comes to popular music and am hesitant to embrace something so popular because I assume there is a degree of pedestrian artistic endeavor in order to appeal to the masses. I know this is not a fair statement and does make me a bit of an elitest, but luckily a good dosing of self-awareness keeps me from bothering people with such opinions. In truth, this track came up randomly among my youtube recommendations and I was instantly drawn in by the lyrics and the bizarre music video.

First on the video, from a cinematic perspective, it is a delightful tale of madness, of a man stuck in an infinite cycle within his own headspace. He is doomed to repeat the same actions infinitely and the video catches this in a surreal and interesting manner. As far as matching the story told through lyrics, this is one of the better music videos I have ever come across. The only downside I find is the break in the music, I listen to a lot of music and depending what I am doing sometimes I have music videos going in the background so I don’t like videos that either break from the song or have a long intro. It works well to establish the story being told so I can’t fault it too much, but the break is a bit of an annoyance.

The lyrics of this song paint an interesting perspective of a mand spiraling into a self-indulgent madness. The song is told from the perspective of staff working at a hotel, who remind Mr. Tillman of the rules. However, instead of this being a song about a rockstar just fucking up a hotel, the staff expresses an odd concern for the health of the man. This paints the character in a sad picture as his destruction becomes evident to the point of familiarization with strangers, who now seem to be the only ones looking out for him.

All around the song and video appeal greatly to my tastes in music, narrative, and visual storytelling. Off the back of this, I have slowly made my way through his discography, which has many gems. So don’t be so snobbish and give him a shot as well.

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Mr. Tillman, good to see you again
There’s a few outstanding charges just before we check you in
Let’s see here, you left your passport in the mini fridge
And the message with the desk says here the picture isn’t his
And oh, just a reminder about our policy:
Don’t leave your mattress in the rain if you sleep on the balcony
Okay, did you and your guests have a pleasant stay?
What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face
And oh, will you need a driver out to Philly?
Jason Isbell’s here as well
And he seemed a little worried about you

I’m feeling good
Damn, I’m feeling so fine
I’m living on a cloud above an island in my mind
Okay babe, don’t be alarmed this is just my vibe
No need to walk around
No, it’s not too bad a crime

Mr. Tillman, for the seventh time
We have no knowledge of a film that is being shot outside
Those aren’t extras in a movie; they’re our clientele
No, they aren’t running lines and they aren’t exactly thrilled
Would you like a regalo on the patio?
Is there someone we can call?
Perhaps you shouldn’t drink alone

I’m feeling good
Damn, I’m feeling so fine
I’m living on a cloud above an island in my mind
Okay babe, don’t be alarmed this is just my vibe
No need to walk around
No, it’s not too bad a crime

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